Here’s my armchair travel guide for Lisbon Portugal. In this wanderlusty guide, you’ll find the best virtual tours of Lisbon that can magically transport you to the Queen of the Sea without leaving your home. You heard me –- armchair travel, as in the art of vicarious travel from the comfort of your armchair, couch, or bed.
Lisbon is a visual feast, an alluring city of old world charm. Even if you’re not there in person, you can still swoon in stunned admiration over Lisbon’s sparkling azulejo facades, glamorous palaces, museums, and UNESCO-listed landmarks. Lisbon’s a dreamy place and I dream of returning on another geographical cure.
In the meantime, traveling virtually is a splendid option these days, if you access the right resources. In this virtual travel guide to Lisbon, I’ll point you to curated tours and exhibits, 360 degree tours, and videos to allow you to access and enjoy Lisbon’s must see landmarks from home.
Best Virtual Tours of Lisbon: How To Virtually Travel To Lisbon From Home
If you’re stuck at home or can’t travel for whatever reason, here’s what you can still see, as a distraction from the bleary news ticker. Let’s take some DIY virtual tours of Lisbon’s fabulous must see sites.
1. Overview and Panoramic Tours of Lisbon
An excellent place to begin your virtual exploration of Lisbon is with this panoramic tour of Lisbon. You can climb the Sao Jorge Church for stunning views of the city, visit Se Cathedral, and walk down some famously tangled Alfama lanes.
As you’ll see, much of Lisbon’s appeal lies in its laid back artistic ensemble and azulejo tiles. Azulejos are Portuguese to the core.
2. Carmo Convent | Igreja do Carmo
Carmo Convent is probably Lisbon’s best historical site. It’s an open air memorial to the worst day of Lisbon’s history, when the 1755 earthquake demolished much of the city.
The Carmo Convent was built and founded in 1389 by Portuguese knight Nuno Álvares Pereira. Pereira’s foreboding and rather bleak creation, the Igreja do Carmo, was once Lisbon’s most important church. It had an immense library with 5,000 books.
But in 1755, it was decimated. The church was never entirely rebuilt and intentionally left roofless. Now, it’s an evocative ruin housing the Carmo Archaeological Museum.
3. St. George’s Castle | Castelo de São Jorge
St. George’s Castle in Alfama is Lisbon’s most recognizable landmark. Destroyed by the Lisbon earthquake, the fetching castle was rebuilt in the 1940s.
It’s a modern recreation of a medieval landmark, complete with crenelated walls and 11 towers. With the most prominent location on Lisbon’s highest hill, it’s essentially a miradouro (viewpoint).
4. Santa Justa Elevator | Elevador do Carmo
The Santa Justa Elevator is both legendary and lovely. It was built in 1902 by French architect Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a student of the famous Gustave Eiffel. It’s wrought iron and decorated with elaborate filigree.
You travel up and down the elevator in wood paneled rooms with brass fittings. It links the Baixa and Bairro Alto neighborhoods. At the top, there are fantastic views over Baixa, Rossio Square, and St. George’s Castle in the distance.
5. National Tile Museum | Museu Nacional do Azulejo
This unique museum covers the entire history of the azulejo. It boasts a dramatic setting, in the 16th century Madre de Deus, a church built in the Manueline style.
Inside the museum, every inch is covered with azulejos. The exhibits are arranged chronologically from the Moorish-influenced tiles of the 16th century to the abstract designs of the 20th century. The piece de resistance is a 75 foot long panel depicting Lisbon as it existed before the great earthquake of 1755.
You can take a virtual tour of the museum here on Google Arts & Culture. Make sure you ascend to the top floor to view the grand panorama of Lisbon. Here’s my own guide to visiting Lisbon’s National Tile Museum.
6. Se Cathedral | Sé de Lisboa
The Lisbon Cathedral, often called simply the Se, is a Roman Catholic church with a fortress like exterior in Alfama. Like St. George’s Castle, it’s been rebuilt. The church and its imposing facade fit in nicely with the vintage look of Lisbon.
The Se was first built in 1150, just after King Alfonso Henriques took Lisbon from the Moors. The imposing exterior boasts a splendid rose window. Inside, it’s a tad gloomy.
It has 9 Gothic chapels and a Gothic cloister that’s currently being renovated. Still an excavation site, Roman and other artifacts have been discovered there.
You can take a virtual tour of the Se with a local on YouTube.
7. National Palace of Ajuda | Palacio da Ajuda
Built in the early 19th century, Ajuda is grand neoclassical palace. It served as the Portuguese royal residence from the 1860 to 1910.
Inside, it’s romantic. There’s gilded and richly-decorated furnishings, tapestries, exquisite artworks, and other little “discoveries” from other countries. The queen’s chapel is home to Portugal’s only El Greco painting.
8. Jeronimos Monastery | Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
Jeronimos Monastery is a magnificent 500 year old UNESCO site. The monastery is the premiere example of Manueline architecture in Portugal.
Manueline architecture was a short lived late Gothic artistic movement that lasted 30 years in the early 16th century. It’s a distinctively Portuguese style, named after its key influencer, King Manuel I, who reigned from 1495 to 1521.
The monastery’s two level cloister is honey colored and dripping with organic detail. It boasts delicately scalloped arches, twisting turrets, columns intertwined with leaves, vines, and knots. And gargoyles and beasties on the upper facade. Oh my!
You can take a virtual tour of the beautiful monastery on Google Arts & Culture. Via Google Street view, you can see the altar, the beautiful church of Santa Maria de Belem, the exterior of the monastery, and the courtyard of the cloisters. Here’s my complete guide to visiting Jeronimos Monastery.
9. Belem Tower | Torre de Belem
The Tower of Belem is a beautiful Manueline-Gothic style structure, which is also part of Lisbon’s UNESCO 1983 designation. It has a very Game of Thrones like feel to me with its fortress-like style and filigree stonework.
A very narrow spiral staircase leads tourist to the top for fantastic views. Inside, there’s only one staircase, and it’s a bit time consuming. There’s only one way traffic. A light signals when you can go up and down.
10. Calouste Gullbenkian Museum
Tucked away in the Belem neighborhood, Lisbon’s Calouste Gulbenkian Museum was assembled by a wealthy oil magnate over 40 years. This gem of a museum is stuffed with a stunning range of treasures spanning 4,000 years. It holds Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European art.
11. National Coach Museum | National Coche Museum
Disney princess wannabes and history lovers will delight in Portugal’s most visited museum, the National Coach Museum. Opened in 2015, the museum dazzles with its world-class collection of seventy 17th to 19th century coaches.
Highlights include Pope Clement XI’s stunning ride, the scarlet-and-gold Coach of the Oceans, King Philip II 16th century traveling coach, and the Baroque 18th century coach given by Pope Clement XI to King John V.
You can take a virtual tour of this Lisbon hidden gem here.
12. Bernardo Museum | Museu Colecção Berardo
The Bernardo Museum is Lisbon’s modern art museum. Located in the Belem district, it’s a fabulous museum with over 1,000 works from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The ultra-white, minimalist gallery displays billionaire José Berardo’s eye-popping collection of abstract, surrealist and pop art. It includes art work by such luminaries as David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, and Willem de Kooning. Picasso’s early Tete de Femme from 1909 and Warhol’s iconic Brillo Box are highlights.
13. Street Art in Lisbon
Lisbon is filled with street art of all kinds, on the walls, sidewalks, buildings, and everywhere really. The street art is varied – quirky, evocative, elegant, or utilitarian. There’s a nice collection of Lisbon street art here and here.
14. Church of São Roque | Igreja de Sao Roque
Though plain on the outside, inside Sao Roque is richly decorated and smothered in gold. The Chapel of St. John the Baptist, built in 1742, is particularly lavish.
It’s embellished with precious marbles, jewels, gold, and mosaics. Sao Roque has some ancient tiles in the 16th century chapel dedicated to St. Roch.
15. Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
The 16th century Monastery of Sao Vicente de Fora is one of Lisbon’s grand architectural sites and a secret hidden gem in Lisbon. In fact, it’s hidden in plain sight, sitting atop one of the Graca neighborhood’s highest points.
The monastery is downright jaw dropping. Dedicated to St. Vincent, Lisbon’s patron saint, it’s the burial place of kings and saints.
But the most compelling feature of the monastery is its richly decorated and sun-dappled cloisters. Everywhere you look, the cloisters are covered in stunning azulejo mosaics telling historical stories.
Upstairs, an unbroken tiled pattern winds around the entire monastery. 100,000 tiles were used, making it the world’s largest collection of Baroque tiles.
16. National Pantheon
The National Pantheon was formerly the Church of Saint Engracia. Construction started in the 16th century, but was only completed in the 20th century. This 400 year delay spawned the Portuguese proverb “Obras de Santa Engracia,” meaning a work that never ends.
The interior is quite lovely and houses the graves of various Lisbon luminaries and national heroes. The rooftop sports another miradouro type view.
If you just can’t get enough of Lisbon, here are some of my other Lisbon travel guides:
If you’d like to travel virtually to other places in Europe, I’ve got guides for that too:
If you’d like to visit Lisbon virtually, pin it for later.